Throughout my life, I’ve gotten really good at sliding by certain questions with super generic yet seemingly genuine answers. Questions like, “What do you want for dinner tonight?” Or, “Do you like this dress?” Or even, “How are you doing?” I’ve mastered the answers that don’t really give an answer, yet have tricked you people into thinking I’ve told you my real opinion. Answers like, “Whatever you want is fine with me, I’m not that hungry.” or “Let’s keep looking, but if nothing else works then you’ve picked a winner!” Or how about, “I’m doing okay. Not too bad, not too good. Just living life.” Mwuahaha. See my trickery! No seriously, this is a problem.
I’m not entirely sure why I do this, but I do know that I think about what others’ are thinking about too much. Ya know, like if he asked me what I want for dinner tonight then he must have something already in mind, so I might as well let him choose. Same goes for the dress thing too. I guess I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings or discourage them from what they really want. I haven’t always been this way, that’s for sure. Honestly, until God took hold of my heart, I was a pretty blunt and to the point kind of girl, which didn’t always (usually) work out best for me. Now I’m constantly thinking through what the other person could possibly be thinking and then I try to mold my answer to fit their scenario, yet still give a partial of my opinion. Sounds exhausting, right?
There is some good to this for sure. I’m a more sensitive to others kind of person now, and I truly do care about what others care about. Not that I didn’t in the past, but this girl had a lot of pride in her heart so usually whatever I thought or said was best and right and this is my way or the highway (Ew! Thank you God for change). But there’s also a lot (mostly) of bad to this too. When I overthink things or arrange my answers to satisfy someone else, I can easily get that horrible disease called the People Pleaser Syndrome, and y’all that’s just awful. Before Jesus, I would’ve rolled my eyes at the thought of being a people pleaser, because quite honestly – I wasn’t. But now, God has changed the way my mind and heart work, so I’ve been introduced to this new side of me that I didn’t know existed so naturally. One who cares for others, desires to be selfless, and wants to lift up and encourage those around me. All of this is because of the Lord. But because of sin, Satan can distort or make hazy those really beautiful things God has put inside of me. Satan doesn’t have control over them, but he definitely can manipulate them. So that kindness and gentleness and selflessness inside of me can so easily turn into pleasing others, not being genuine, and seeking others’ approval. None of which are from the Lord.
The bible is so clear about finding favor with the Lord and not people:
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” – Proverbs 29:25
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” – Colossians 3:23
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” – James 4:4
So, why do I fall into people pleasing over and over again, when the bible is so clear on this topic? Why do I try to avoid questions simply because I don’t want my answer to be unpleasing to another? Because I’m fearful of responses, of reactions. I’m worried I’ll hurt someone’s feelings or make them unhappy or throw a burden on their shoulders. But in reality, as I worry about all of these scenarios that seem so real to me, they are nonexistent. Scenarios made up in my mind. Typically people ask questions because they want real answers. So, in me trying to avoid hurting someone, I actually end up hurting them (and myself) because I’m lying. I’m not being real. I’m putting a barrier up that says, “You can’t handle the truth!” And in reality, that’s all a person wants. The truth.
Marriage is really good at sanctifying a person. Like at all times. And this People Pleasing Syndrome that I’ve picked up lately doesn’t fly with the husband. He wants me to be real. He needs me to be real. My answers, to even the simplest of questions, should be full of truth, laced with grace, and genuine. As women, we think our demeanor must be soft, gentle, quiet, reserved…and yes, there are moments when we should be those things…but we have to also be true to the women God created us to be. Even if that means blunt, bold, loud, vocal. But always laced with grace and authenticity. I’ve fallen victim to thinking I have to be the complete opposite of my bubbly (and sometimes obnoxious) self in order to be a good, Christian woman (and wife), but that’s not true! I don’t have to give people pleasing answers so that they will like me. I do have to give Christ-like answers though because He already loves me. I’m called to that standard. Not out of a desire to please others, but out of a desire to please my Heavenly Father. I love because He first loved me.
So, in my struggle to cure the People Pleasing Syndrome, I’ll cling to the truth of God. As I do with every area of my life. Because I can’t cling enough. There’s always something drawing me into the world, rather than into His arms. Do you struggle with pleasing others? In what way? I’d love to hear your stories.
Oh and the one question I absolutely can’t stand? “What do you want to do when you grow up?” More on that another day.